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Old 16th December 2016, 08:33 PM   #1
Ian
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Default Mystery knife

This is the second example of this identical knife that I have owned. I don't yet have this one in hand. However, its twin had an extremely sharp edge that was hardened. The small ferrule and straight cylindrical handles with rounded ends are identical on each knife, as are the scabbards.

The precise origin of these knives eludes me, but it appears to be SE Asian. I had thought that the first one I found may have been a custom made piece, but the arrival of its twin suggests this is a "style" that appears to be rare.

Any thoughts on their origin would be appreciated.

Ian.

Here are the seller's pics.
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Old 16th December 2016, 09:27 PM   #2
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Hi Ian, can you give some measurements.
The piece certainly has a 'Philippine' feel to it..mostly.
The handle/ferrule set up seems a bit strange; but the blade profile would seem to fit within parameters for that area.

BTW
Nice knife.
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Old 17th December 2016, 01:57 AM   #3
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Hi Rick:

The only data I have is from the seller: OAL in the scabbard is 22 inches. The seller also thought it was from the Philippines, circa WWII, although there was no clear provenance linking it to the Philippines or to that period.

The absence of rattan bindings, or any binding for that matter, on the wooden scabbard would be unusual for a traditional Filipino knife of this size. I can't recall whether the other knife I owned had a scabbard that was glued or pinned together with small brads. Either way, not really typical Filipino work. The hilt and ferrule are unlike any Philippine knife I have seen. I should also mention that the hilt is not full tang, which would pretty much rule out Luzon.

The workmanship on each knife was considerably above average, and the scabbards have been well carved and finished carefully. There is no obvious suspension system for it to be worn around the waist, so presumably it was meant to be thrust through a sash or behind a belt.

Ian.
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Old 17th December 2016, 02:48 AM   #4
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The scabbard and even the blade to a lesser degree looks a little Bicolano to me.

You are right, a rare version. Does the tang go through the hilt?
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Old 17th December 2016, 04:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
The scabbard and even the blade to a lesser degree looks a little Bicolano to me.

You are right, a rare version. Does the tang go through the hilt?
Jose, it is a blind tang construction.

Ian
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Old 18th December 2016, 11:28 PM   #6
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I could still be Bicolano since they are right next to the Visayas.
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Old 20th December 2016, 06:39 AM   #7
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Hello Ian, I believe that this bolo with its blade and odd hilt and ferrule style is from Negrito and if I remember correctly is called a "hundang". Somewhere locked up on my old computer I have a photo that I believe shows this type of bolo, I just hope that at some point I posted it here on the forum and can find it again to post here. I will do a search and see what I can find.

Best,
Robert

Found it. Even though there is a slight difference in the shape of the hilt I believe that your bolo looks very similar to the one listed as No 4 on Plate 9 in this photo.
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Old 20th December 2016, 11:06 PM   #8
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Robert:

Thank you.

This makes sense. The knife was among articles found in an old GIs possessions. The Pinatubo Negrito were located very near the Clark Air Force Base on Luzon, so it would not be surprising to find such a bolo being brought back by a U.S. serviceman.

I remember you posting this picture before, and I have tried to find the original reference but unfortunately my library cannot locate that particular number of the original journal.

Ian.
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Old 21st December 2016, 01:16 AM   #9
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A good catch Robert. Would you post the source of this article?

I do however question the "katana" term.........
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Old 21st December 2016, 04:55 AM   #10
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I'm not sure how relevant it is, but the overall shape reminds me quite a bit of a bolo I have from Apalit, in particular, the small ferrule. If I recall correctly, I think Apalit is also near Clark Air Force Base.

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 21st December 2016, 10:17 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
A good catch Robert. Would you post the source of this article?

I do however question the "katana" term.........


A lot of Japanese Christians emigrated to the Philippines after their religion was proscribed in the 17th Century, and so katana could easily be a "loan word".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan...the_Philippines
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Old 21st December 2016, 03:13 PM   #12
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Rafngard, your picture and example is in that region of the Negritos, also known as the Aeta. Very relevant to this topic, thank you for posting this.

David R, I had no idea. I learned, thank you. It probably is a loan word, another name for the same piece in Pamgangan called a tabak. I personally question that the attribution of that particular piece, and may have been traded in to that area.
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Old 22nd December 2016, 06:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
I personally question that the attribution of that particular piece, and may have been traded in to that area.
I agree, Jose. That piece labeled katana looks more Tagalog in origin.

The top one, which Robert has identified as a dipalata, was the subject of much debate many years ago. We eventually decided that it was probably from the Ilongot tribe (one of the Igorot groups) from northern Luzon—a small ethnic group noted for headhunting that continued into the late-20th C.* See here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=235

Ian

* Renato Rosaldo. Ilongot Headhunting, 1883-1974: A Study in Society and History. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 313 pp, 1980

Last edited by Ian : 22nd December 2016 at 06:42 PM. Reason: Added reference and link
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Old 22nd December 2016, 08:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
The top one, which Robert has identified as a dipalata, was the subject of much debate many years ago. We eventually decided that it was probably from the Ilongot tribe (one of the Igorot groups) from northern Luzon—a small ethnic group noted for headhunting that continued into the late-20th C.* See here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=235


Hello Ian,

the sword which start the thread you have provided is for sure from Northern Luzon, Ilongot, called "itung", a headhunter sword, so the eventually decision was a correct one.

But the sword shown on the drawing seems to be very different in the handle design and was several times identified as Negrito sword/bolo, see here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=diplata and here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showp...98&postcount=24

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 22nd December 2016, 10:28 PM   #15
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The information that I posted was photographed from "The Philippine Journal Of Science Volume 81 - The Pinatubo Negritos" which was most graciously sent to me by Lorenz. If anyone is interested in reading the rest of the material I have please let me know and I will email it to you as it is too large for me to post here.

Best,
Robert
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Old 19th January 2017, 06:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert
The information that I posted was photographed from "The Philippine Journal Of Science Volume 81 - The Pinatubo Negritos" which was most graciously sent to me by Lorenz. If anyone is interested in reading the rest of the material I have please let me know and I will email it to you as it is too large for me to post here.

Best,
Robert
Robert has kindly sent me the individual JPG files for some of the relevant pages of this reference. Because these seem to have been photographed with a smartphone and are hard to read, I have been transcribing them for my own record. When the pages are finished I shall post them here as a PDF file and include the illustrations that accompany the text.

Much of the text relates to the bow and arrow used by the Pinatubo Negritos, with particular reference to the plant materials that are used in making the various types of bows and arrows. The material is based on the author's field work conducted in 1947 and published in 1952.

It's interesting stuff and it has set me thinking about how styles diffuse locally among different ethnic groups. More about that later.

Ian.
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Old 19th January 2017, 11:51 PM   #17
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Default Fox reference materials for Pinatubo Negritos

Attached is my transcription of what Robert sent. It is incomplete and definitely not the whole article published by Fox, but it is everything that I have.

Fox appears to have been an ethnobotanist with expertise in the plants used by these indigenous people of the Philippines. If you don't fancy reading the Latin plant names, just pass right along to the general text. He describes, in considerable detail, the manufacture and materials used for men's and boy's bows and arrows, the creation and attachment of arrowpoints, the significance of different shaft lengths for the arrows, and even how to make and string the bow. In case you were wondering which vines were used for the bowstrings, it's all here in great detail.

The space devoted to edged weapons is small but informative. He provides drawings of various bolos (Plate 9) and gives their respective names and uses. The materials used to make the knives and scabbards are described, including the sources of the glues and resins needed to secure hilts, scabbards, arrow heads, etc. It would be nice to have the complete article (which seems to run to several hundred pages and may have been this guy's doctoral dissertation).

To help with orienting where the various groups are and the geographical features I've attached a picture of the Central Luzon Region. I have indicated Mt. Pinatubo, the site of the old Clark AFB, and the nearby town of Apalit in the Province of Pampanga. More about Apalit in a later post.

Very interesting reading this article, and I've enjoyed going through it in the process of transcribing the text. Because of size limitations on files, the article is split into two parts, one for the text and the second for the Plates.

Ian.
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File Type: pdf Fox Document--Part I text.pdf (3.27 MB, 171 views)
File Type: pdf Fox document--Part II pictures.pdf (3.29 MB, 118 views)

Last edited by Ian : 22nd January 2017 at 05:47 AM.
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Old 20th January 2017, 06:08 AM   #18
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The "mystery knife" that started this thread is shown in the middle of three knives (see attached picture). Each of these knives shares some similarities:
  • The cutting edge is recurved
  • The spine of the blade is convex, curving down to an acute point
  • There is a short ferrule
Some differences:
  • The bottom two hilts have a blind tang construction and the top one has a full length tang construction
  • The ferrule of the center one is much smaller in diameter than the adjacent hilt, while the other two ferrules are slightly less in diameter than the adjacent hilt.
The top knife bears a stamped inscription indicating it is from APALIT. We have discussed these knives before, and the location of Apalit is shown on the map in the previous post here.

The middle knife is typical of the hundáng produced by the Pinatubo Negritos, as shown in Plate 9 of Fox's article. It came with a wooden sheath (see pics attached) similar to the sheath for a katána that is shown in Fox's Plate 9.

The bottom one is a recent acquisition. The blade has been polished to a mirror finish and has been professionally sharpened--this may well have been done by the U.S. seller of this item. It came with a leather sheath typical of Filipino manufacture, and the sheath shows some age (probably early 20th C.). I suspect this one is an upscale model of the top knife and may come from Apalit also.

I was prompted to put up these comparisons because of the similarities of the various knives. Leif (Rafngard) expressed the same thought about knives from Apalit. Given the relatively short distance between the eastern side of Mt. Pinatubo and Apalit, it's not unreasonable to ponder whether some diffusion of styles might exist. Indeed, Fox notes that the Negritos would get their work bolos from nearby markets, although he does not specifically identify Apalit as one of those markets.

The next to last picture attached to this post is of another Apalit bolo that resembles a talódo in the shape of the blade, again perhaps suggesting some crossover in styles between the Negritos and Pampangans. All conjecture, of course, but it is food for thought.

The last picture is another copy of Fox's Plate 9 for comparison.

Given the proximity of Clark AFB to the Negrito homeland and to knife making centers such as Apalit, it is perhaps not surprising that examples of the knives from these sources ended up as souvenirs for US servicemen, and have then found their way on to the U.S. market.

Ian.
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Last edited by Ian : 20th January 2017 at 06:43 AM. Reason: Added pictures
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Old 22nd January 2017, 05:34 AM   #19
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Two examples of the Pinatubo Negritos' dipalata photographed in a Spanish Museum. This picture comes from an old thread on the rare Moro gayang, one of which can be seen at the bottom of rack.
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Old 26th January 2017, 05:04 PM   #20
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The shape of the blade on this knife is strongly reminiscent of the Pinatubo Negrito katana shown in Fox, Plate 9 above. This picture comes from the Philippine section (no. 212) in the History of Steel Exhibition at the Macao Museum of Art (see here). The museum described it as a Luzon tabak, probably from Batangas.

The knife has a brass ferrule and a horn handle the end of which is carved with a human head wearing a brass cap. This style of carving is typical of work from Ilocos sur, and therefore is likely to be Ilocano in origin. The links between edged weapons of the Negritos and Ilokano are issues for a separate discussion.

Ian

---------------------Attachment: Luzon tabak (Ilocano style hilt, Negrito katana-style blade)---------------------------
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Last edited by Ian : 26th January 2017 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 11th March 2017, 02:12 PM   #21
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Hello Ian,

by searching I stumbled over this thread: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=negrito A very similar knife to the one which has started this thread.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 11th March 2017, 02:54 PM   #22
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Detlef, thanks for finding that old post. Yes, definitely the same style of knife and correctly identified as "Negrito," although the geography is a little off. As Nony suggested in that post, that knife was probably mid-20th C in manufacture although the style clearly goes back to at least the early 20th C.

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Old 11th March 2017, 03:11 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
As Nony suggested in that post, that knife was probably mid-20th C in manufacture although the style clearly goes back to at least the early 20th C.


Hello Ian,

I personally would place this one a little bit more early, the good workmanship, the small aluminium(?) nails at the handle, the used wood (looks like a very nice grain) and the patination let me guess a birth around the 1930s but like always I could be wrong.

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 11th March 2017, 03:38 PM   #24
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Hi Detlef:

Could be, although aluminum ornamentation would date it to WWII or later. The aluminum came from downed aircraft.

Ian

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hello Ian,

I personally would place this one a little bit more early, the good workmanship, the small aluminium(?) nails at the handle, the used wood (looks like a very nice grain) and the patination let me guess a birth around the 1930s but like always I could be wrong.

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 11th March 2017, 03:55 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Hi Detlef:

Could be, although aluminum ornamentation would date it to WWII or later. The aluminum came from downed aircraft.

Ian


Hi Ian,

I think that aluminium was used a little more early by recycled drinking bottles from US soldiers, just a guess!? Otherwise you are correct, the 1940s is also a very good guess.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 12th March 2017, 07:42 AM   #26
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Default SIMILAR

Came across this recently. It would appear to be the same.
O/A length is 14"
Blade is 8 1/4"
Not full tang.
collar is aluminium.
The letters on the blade look like ADG but they are very unclear.
Regards
Roy
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Old 12th March 2017, 04:11 PM   #27
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Hi royston:

Yes, definitely in the same group.

I am attaching a picture from the web of a chief of the Pinatubo Negrito who lived near the US Clark Air Force Base. He was reportedly the last surviving member of a group of Pinatubos who fought the Japanese during WWII--he was 19 at that time. The picture was taken in the 1970s by a US serviceman.

Ian.
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Old 12th March 2017, 04:48 PM   #28
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Great picture Ian!
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Old 13th March 2017, 01:10 PM   #29
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Can't argue with that
( unless he swapped it for the spear from the boy )
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Old 14th March 2017, 05:40 PM   #30
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Hi Detlef:

Aluminum cans are also a possibility, but use of aluminum to make cans was only introduced in 1957, and I don't know when that invention found its way to the Philippines. In any case, I think the knife is probably older than the late 1950s/1960s.

Ian.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Hi Ian,

I think that aluminium was used a little more early by recycled drinking bottles from US soldiers, just a guess!? Otherwise you are correct, the 1940s is also a very good guess.

Regards,
Detlef
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